An anti-abortion march was held in Washington, D.C. last Saturday. Vice-President Mike Pence, a conservative, evangelical Christian, spoke to the marchers and commended them for standing up for the “most vulnerable.” Like most fundamentalists, whether liberal or conservative, Mr. Pence’s remarks demonstrated that he lacks any sense of irony.
He commended the anti-abortion marchers for their concern for the most vulnerable while his administration works frantically to take health care away from the poorest, and cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which does more than any other organization to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. They want to cut funding for contraception and sex education, which has done more to reduce the number of abortions in this country than any march.
With militant piety, the so-called “pro-life” movement attacks the very things that have been documented as bringing about a decline in the number of abortions. Here the Roman Catholic Church demonstrates the greatest consistency and stupidity. By opposing all contraception, their teachings lead to thousands of unwanted and unnecessary pregnancies and, hence, more abortions than would occur otherwise. Conservative Protestants have fought against education and clinics like Planned Parenthood that do a great deal to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and, hence, unnecessary abortions. No irony in either camp.
As I pondered this, though, I couldn’t help but wonder how we also have been blind. What have we reacted to ideologically and missed the bigger picture or greater point?
One of the things I love most about the teachings of Jesus is that he consistently took what everyone thought they knew and turned it on its head. Nothing, and no one, was above challenge and reconsideration when Jesus got a hold of it. Perhaps we would do well to consider how we’ve missed the greater point. It might be a good starting point for winning new and unexpected allies.
Rev. Michael Piazza